THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY 267 Children's minds are feeble. It is little use appealing to their reason, " not so much because they still lack all the ideas and the general principles of reason which they will afterwards acquire, but because in their ignorance of many facts they cannot apply the reason they have got, and because the instability of their brain prevents them thinking connectedly."* Their only desire is for pleasure ; and, unfortunately, the ordinary education separates pleasure and effort, and associates effort with study, and pleasure with amusements. That state of matters must be changed by making study agreeable, and concealing effort under the guise of liberty and pleasure. The fewer formal lessons there are the better. An infinite amount of instruction more useful than lessons can be insinuated into pleasant conversation. " I have seen various children learning to read at their play. All that had to be done was to tell them diverting stories, taken from a book in their presence, and lead them to master the letters without knowing it. After that they are eager to go to the source of this pleasure for themselves."! Writing can be taught in much the same fashion. In this indirect instruction the teacher must make good use of the natural propensities of childhood. Curiosity is of special value for this purpose. " In the country, for example, they see a mill, and they want to know what it is : they should be shown how the food that nourishes man is prepared. They notice the reapers at work: an explanation should be given about what they are doing, and how the wheat is sown and multiplies in the earth. In the town they see the shops where various crafts are carried on and different kinds of goods sold. Show them that you are pleased with their questions about these matters: by doing so you will gradually teach them how all the things that are of service to man are made. Gradually, without any particular study, they will learn the right way to make all the things they require and the proper price of each of them. If their curiosity is encouraged in this fashion, their minds will become stored with a mass of good materials, and in due season they will arrange this for themselves and reason methodically. Until that time comes it is enough to correct their errors in reasoning, and make them feel as occasion offers what it means to draw a right conclusion." J Another valuable propensity for indirect instruction is the * Chapter vii, f Chapter v, J Chapter iii.